Tehran: Iran`s ruling conservatives on Saturday
ratcheted up pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to
detach himself from his chief of staff and scrap plans to line
up his own favourites for elections next year.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei`s representative
in the elite Revolutionary Guards said Ahmadinejad`s
government had been infiltrated by "corrupt elements" and
urged the president to return to the "right path."
"Unfortunately the government is inflicted by a great
calamity, which is the presence of corrupt elements," said
Hojatoleslam Ali Saeedi, quoted by Mehr news agency.
Saeedi`s criticism was directed at Ahmadinejad`s chief
of staff, top adviser and close relative, Esfandiar Rahim
Mashaie -- the bane of the religious traditionalists in the
Mashaie is accused of leading a "current of
deviation," a term coined by his opponents to define a
ideological movement which they say is too liberal,
nationalist and not nearly religious enough to coexist with
Conservative figures have thus repeatedly demanded the
sacking of Mashaie, who has worked closely with Ahmadinejad
for more than 25 years.
"If the current of deviation comes to power, it will
damage Islam and the revolution. There are signs that religion
itself is in danger," said ultra-conservative cleric Ayatollah
Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi.